Whether in defeat, victory, or neither, every adventure must come to an end.
An on-the-field adventure for opposing baseball teams, South Korea and Jackie Robinson West of Chicago, came to a close this past Sunday, August 24, during the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The event housed a tense, final game between the gifted finalists, leading up to South Korea’s closing 8-4 win and all around third championship title after back-to-back wins in 1984 and ’85.
Returning after a 29 year-absence from the youth Series, South Korea played the first half of the game with an 8-1 lead against their Chicagan competitors. Starting South Korean pitcher Hwang Jae-yeong retired the first six Chicago batters – a whopping four by strikeout. Soon after, an injury in Jae-yeong’s elbow forced him to sit out, before JRW made it close, hitting the ball out of the infield and altogether scoring 3 more points. Still, the South Korean team persevered, victorious at that, controlling the scoreboard to reach their 8-4 conquest.
With the title safely secured and under their belt, the young Korean players relieved themselves of their gloves as they hugged and drenched each other with cups of water. Dropping to their knees, the baseball athletes showcased their appreciation to their fans and parents (but not before bowing to the Chicago players), most of which followed the series adventure on television from the country’s capital, Seoul, due to not being able to travel to the states. They ended their hurrah by planting a small national flag (placed in a cup filled with dirt) on the mound and then pantomiming the shooting of arrows.
Even with South Korea’s triumph over Chicago, all is not lost for the inspirational squad. The team became an influential symbol of progress for baseball, highlighting the sport’s current state in regards to the decline of African American involvement. To add, the troupe’s presence also validated Major League Baseball’s urban initiative to help decrease the widening gap of young players from urban communities and inner-cities. Upon their return home, the JRW crew was met with a celebratory parade and a trip to Disney World.
Win or lose, it was a glorious occasion – for both teams – as people from all around the world watched in amazement at the young and aspiring talent. Till next year!